Louis Mark: “As a master’s student, you are not given all of the answers, you are given the directions.”
Louis Mark is a senior program consultant at Anthesis Group, a consulting group focusing on sustainability. He joined the Sciences Po Master’s Degree in Energy Economics in the fall of 2016, after spending time researching in China. “The year before I started was a pivotal moment for climate,” he says, “and I was already doing some research in China at the time. My focus was on air pollution, displacement of indigenous people, and energy infrastructure.” When the Paris agreement was signed in April 2016, Mark felt even more compelled to continue his studies in climate.
As a student in the Energy Economics program, Mark participated in courses that “ran the gamut of the range of energy topics—from power markets, to oil finance, to long term energy scenarios.” He describes studying a lot of theory, as well as quantitative elements that focused on the marriage of energy and economics. Outside of the classroom, Mark was part of a projet collectif and the Energy Association, a professional development organization that brought speakers from different walks in the energy profession to speak to the student body. This organization, he says, gave students “perspective on what people were doing in energy professionally.” Mark chimes in that he “had the best time in Paris” living in the seventh arrondissement close to the Champs-de-Mars. “There was always something to do,” he reminisces, “whether you were interested in traveling outside of Paris or just meeting students in different parts of the city to go out to dinner.” Mark additionally had internships with the International Energy Agency under the OECD and participated in a remote internship based out of the Netherlands that introduced him to the private sector.
Before studying climate and energy, Mark focused on international policy and international relations, and before his master’s at Sciences Po, he lived in China as part of a certificate program through Johns Hopkins. He says that the direct sensation of pollution in China he experienced personally was a major driver of his focus on climate and energy. He also cites the prevalence of the topic while studying international policy. “There were always a lot of examples about climate and energy; it was something hard to ignore,” he adds. Inspired by the Paris Agreement and a desire to focus on something international but with a specific focus, Mark describes thinking energy and climate would be an excellent type of career to grow as a professional. Most importantly, “I also wanted to choose something important,” he says. Upon entering the energy sector, Mark was surprised by the many possibilities. “There are just so many aspects,” he says. “You can go in so many directions—studying oil and finance, energy markets, sustainability, energy technology, or power markets. The field gets exponentially diverse.”
After graduating from Sciences Po, Mark took a year-long post as a power markets analyst in the Netherlands. He soon realized, however, that the position was not very sustainability focused, where he says he “really felt his calling was,” and he next joined a global consultancy called Navigant. At Navigant, Mark worked on the sustainable consulting solution team and moved to America. There, he began to focus on sustainability through the lens of international policy and how it applies to the corporate sector in helping corporations meet their emissions targets. When he got the opportunity to take a position with Anthesis, Mark was thrilled to jump into a consultancy fully dedicated to sustainability. Today, he says, “I am doubling down on what I know about sustainability, asking: what does it mean to get to zero emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement? How do we push our clients to become even more ambitious than what the Paris Agreement is saying?” Mark believes the private sector has a huge stake and role to play in averting climate failure because of its fast pace and influence over the economy. “It is a lot of work,” he adds, “though so far it is really satisfying to be in the industry and be challenged.”
When asked what he most enjoys about his current role, Mark replies: “the most exciting thing is how in the last two and a half years, what I felt was a very niche part of sustainability, understanding company emissions, really blew up into a full-fledged international movement with large and important stakeholders.” He describes the feeling of being “part of a global movement to tackle emissions on a global level and understand what those solutions are for different sectors.” The biggest challenge for professionals working in the climate field, he says, “is that there is just no time. You have to be very efficient but still be very ambitious.”
Looking back on his education, Mark believes “Sciences Po was a great platform.” With extensive opportunities for professional development and the opportunity to say, “I am a student, and I am learning about energy, that goes a long way,” he says. “As a master’s student, you are not given all of the answers, you are given the directions, and then you just dive in.”